Are expeditious trials of lawmakers facing criminal cases taking place, asks SC


A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha said data on conviction rate of politicians in criminal cases would open up a "new dimension" and sought to know whether completing trial against them in one year would act as a "deterrent".

It has also sought more details on the 1,581 cases registered against MLAs and MPs, and a report within six weeks on the idea of setting up special courts that can dispose of such cases within a year.

The next date of hearing has been fixed as December 13, by the Supreme Court. The poll body had been ambivalent at the last hearing on this point, prompting the top court to tick off the election body.

The court sought the government frame a scheme for setting up of such courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons on the lines of the Fast Track Courts which were set up for a period of five years but extended, though now the scheme stands discontinued.

A ban for a lifetime could seal chances of politicians such as Lalu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar contesting an election or AIADMK's VK Sasikala making her debut in electoral politics.

Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya had earlier told the apex court that 1,581 MPs and MLAs have criminal cases pending against them according to affidavits filed during the 2014 parliamentary and Assembly elections.

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The Apex Court also asked Central government to appraise it as to how much amount would be spent on constituting special courts for cases against MPs and MLAs.

Under the current law, a legislator is debarred for six years from contesting elections once he is convicted for heinous or moral offences.

Many other politicians of various parties also undergoing trial in cases like A Raja and Kanimozhi of the DMK (2G scam) and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi (CWG scam).

Justice Gogoi said that the petition seeking swift trial of lawmakers has arisen because convictions are not taking place.

This was when Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni, while appearing on behalf of the Centre, said that the government did not oppose the setting up of special courts; however, it was a state related subject. You must say either "yes" or "no" on whether you are supporting the petitioner. "You (Centre) should create new courts and infrastructure as at present, the Government of India is spending only one or two per cent of the budget (judicial system)", it said, adding that this would also reduce the huge pendency.